Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody drug gets interim authorization in Canada

Canada has granted interim authorization to Eli Lilly’s antibody drug for treating COVID-19 in patients who are not hospitalized but are at risk of serious illness because of their age or other conditions, the drug-maker said on Friday.

The news comes weeks after the treatment, bamlanivimab, was given U.S. emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration for helping newly diagnosed, high-risk patients avoid hospitalization.

Bamlanivimab was developed in partnership with Canadian biotech company AbCellera.

The Health Canada authorization was based on a clinical study in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, where patients treated with bamlanivimab showed reduced viral load and rates of symptoms and hospitalization.

The drug is a monoclonal antibody — a widely used class of biotech drugs — which in this case is a manufactured copy of an antibody the human body creates to fight infections.

“This authorization in Canada furthers our goal of making bamlanivimab available to patients who need it around the world and is evidence of the strong collaboration between industry and governments to get COVID-19 medicines to people as quickly as possible,” David A. Ricks, Lilly’s chair and CEO, said in a statement issued Friday.

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